City officials say they came away from a meeting with NASA Ames on Tuesday confident that the space agency is eager to save Hangar One.
The Navy, which left the base to NASA in 1994, doesn't want to spend an extra $15 million to re-skin the hangar after it removes its 70-year-old toxic siding. But NASA doesn't want to see the hangar sit around as a bare skeleton, Mayor Tom Means said.
"Their approach would be to do uncovering and recovering at the same time," said Means. "Putting up all that scaffolding is going to cost money. What they are saying is, 'Why don't we put a new covering back on while that scaffolding is in place?'"
The full City Council will discuss the hangar at next week's Tuesday night meeting, and decide whether to approve a letter to the Navy commenting on the plan for Hangar One.
"Both Sunnyvale and Mountain View are getting a lot of citizen pressure to do something," Means said.
Means said those attending the meeting with NASA Ames included Sunnyvale's city manager and vice mayor, along with Mountain View city manager Kevin Duggan, two of his assistants, Vice Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga and himself. It was a quarterly meeting that touched on several NASA Ames-related subjects.
Duggan summarized NASA's position as "not only urging the Navy to completely restore the hangar," but also, if that did not occur, to find other potential ways to obtain funding. "They seem very committed to explore a variety of options," he said.
One of those options -- developing a private partnership for use of the hangar -- was stated in a NASA Ames press release last week. So far, one indication of interest has been received, from Humanitarian Air Logistics, a nonprofit relief organization that would house its planes in the hangar.
Others have suggested the hangar be used for an air and space museum or a convention center. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo has mentioned that it could be used as a base for emergency relief operations.
As for where the funding to re-skin the hangar might come from, "I don't think they want federal money because they don't think it can happen quick enough," Means said of NASA Ames. "I get the impression that if they could get private sources, that's something that could work."
Means said an idea that is popular with preservationists was touched on briefly: the creation of a committee of local officials and NASA representatives to evaluate future uses for the hangar. NASA Ames cautioned that any use would have to fit in with NASA's overall mission. But Means said NASA Ames officials took no position on the committee idea, and that they're waiting to further discuss the hangar with Navy officials later this month.
New option, new interest
Bob Moss, co-chair of the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board, says he has been corresponding with Paul Thomarios of Thomarios Corp., the company that restored Hangar One's near-twin in Akron Ohio: the Goodyear Airdock, owned by Lockheed.
Thomarios used an acrylic coating on the Airdock's siding inside and out, and reports that a year's worth of air testing shows that the coating would work for Hangar One, which is covered with the same siding. But the Navy has been skeptical, Moss reports, and wants a more permanent solution.
If the Navy can be convinced, Thomarios is interested in coating Hangar One for an estimated $21 million -- $5 million less than the $26 million the Navy wants to spend to remove the siding and coat the frame.
The full 485-page Navy report can be downloaded from www.nuqu.org. Written comments may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or postmarked by Sept. 13 and sent to:
Darren Newton, BRAC Environmental Coordinator
Navy BRAC Program Management Office
W. 1455 Frazee Road, Suite 900
San Diego, CA 92108